tv The Last Word MSNBC October 18, 2011 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
jack kennedy, elusive hero. you can get it in stores november 1st or pre-order now on amazon.com. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" start the right now. herman cain is on the fence. >> we'll have a real fence. electrified on top. it can kill you. mea culpa, maya puea culpa. >> after he told david gregory and others it was a joke. >> he's changed his mind again. >> electrifieied with a sign on the other side that says it can kill you. that's a joke. >> it didn't sound like a joke. >> i don't apologize for using a combination of a fence and it might be electrified. >> are you serious? >> it sounded serious at first then it was a joke. >> he's taking both sides of the fence. >> 20 feet how with barbed wire. >> that's a joke. that's not a serious -- >> i think we're splitting hairs here. i apologize if it offended
anyone. >> it's dehumanizing. >> with staunch anti-immigration sheriff joe arpaio. >> self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in the world. >> i have an electric fence. it doesn't kill people. >> this is no laughing matter, the border fence. >> some people don't think it was a good joke. >> it is not a joke. >> america needs to get a sense of humor. >> the front-runner right now -- >> herman cain is great. >> does he know what a neocon is? >> the day after i get elected i'm going to take a nap. >> he's ignorant of global affairs. >> the second day i'm calling the national security team together -- >> to name the leader of, i'm quoting here, ubecky, ubecky, ubeck, stan, stan. >> okay, so yeah, i miss some of these things. call me haagen-dazs black walnut. >> i'm looking to save america. >> if we don't run chris christie, romney will be the nominee on the loose.
now that herman cain has replaced michele bachmann as the republicans' favorite candidate who will never be president, bachmann is reverting to the most desperate of measures to get attention and money. donald trump. bachmann held a tele-town hall with trump who has not endorse her which she used today in a fund raising e-mail looking for contributions of $25 or more. herman cain has surged to the top of the national polls meanwhile. and in iowa, cain is now in second place with 20% while michele bachmann has dropped to fourth place with 11%. bachmann was born in iowa. she has spent more than 80 days campaigning in iowa. and she won the iowa ames straw poll this summer. herman cain hasn't been to iowa
since the straw poll on august 13th. instead, cain has spent most of this month on a personally enriching publicity tour for his book that took him to tennessee, texas and virginia, states that won't vote until march. cain also spoke at a christian university in ohio which holds its primary in march. he visited with anti-immigration sheriff joe arpaio in arizona which has its primary at the end of february and cain met with donald trump here in new york which holds its primary at the end of april. "the new york times" reports today that michele bachmann is trying to take advantage of cain's absence in iowa, to get caucusgoers to take a second look at her. polls show that republican voters do not think bachmann, who was against raising the debt ceiling and who believes the founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery, is
electable. but republican support is surging for herman cain whose signature issue is creating a new 9% federal sales tax and who claims that african-american voters have been brainwashed and whose stated strategy for border control is an electrified fence and a mote filled with alligators. in "the new york times" today, michele bachmann actually went after her former campaign manager, ed rollins, for publicly discussing her faltering campaign. when it comes to personnel issues, i act professionally and respectful of former employees. i just assume that's a two-way street. it's disappointing when it's not. i guess i should have done that google search." joining me now is republican strategist ed rollins. ed -- >> that's a nice introduction. >> thank you very much for being here tonight. if she had done the google -- i assume that google search is a google search on ed rollins, she would have found somebody who
helped get ronald reagan elected president of the united states. what is she talking about? what is your problem with michele bachmann, what is her problem with you? >> i don't have a problem with michele bachmann. we left on a nice note. i was tired of the campaign and i was basically worn out, i was working 16-hour days. i did everything we set out to do. i left her with a strategy memo. the strategy memo was to stay in iowa and win iowa. that's the ticket out. now, obviously since then she's been in arizona, she's been in california, she's been in other places and she basically needs to be focused in iowa. that's all i have said. i have -- i obviously criticized her -- i was asked by chris matthews on a show, did she make a mistake when she attacked the governor of texas on the hiv thing? i basically said, it was a mistake. it was a mistake not attacking, but the next day basically saying it caused retardation when she didn't have any facts. >> the hpv virus he wanted to have mandated. >> i have great affection for
her. i wish her nothing but goodwill. i'm done with politics. i've done this for 40 years and the only difference is, you know, when you've done it for 40 years, you're done 9 presidential campaigns, you know what the pattern is. and it wasn't just 25 years ago when i did ronald reagan. i was there with mike huckabee in iowa just four years ago. there's a pattern and a way you deal with iowa, new hampshire and south carolina and then after that basically go to more of a national campaign. those early states it's retail politics. >> let's talk about the shooting stars we've seen in republican politics this year. we saw donald trump shoot up in the polls then evaporate. we saw michele bachmann do that. now cain is having his curve up into the polls. is there something in the michele bachmann curve in the polls that predir predicts where we' going with herman cain? here's someone who's dedicate to iowa, spends all this time in
iowa. iowa, she becomes less and less popular the longer she say stta there. is there something about the candidacies that the familiaritifamiliarity ? >> sometimes. there's a lot of self-inflicted wounds across the way. mr. cain is struggling with his fence debates the last few days. mrs. bachmann who obviously is a good member of congress but hasn't ever been in the presidential game. it's a different game. it's amplified 20 times what any congressional race ever is. it's the media, scrutiny. every single word you say gets basically highlighted and you have to be very careful what you say. >> what do you make of this shifting loyalty of the republican electorate from very high support for michele bachmann, previously high support for the mythical candidacy of trump and now to cain? >> there's a segment of the population, republican conservative tea party looking for a champion. they don't want romney. romney basically has been running for six years, has 25%,
30% of the vote. there's another 60% out there looking for someone else and basically that 25% that mr. cain has today or michele had for a period of time, not quite that high, kind of shifting back and forth. i like them, i don't like them. i think at the end of the day they're going to settle in here. two-thirds in the most recent polls, two-thirds of the voters say they've not settled on their candidate yet. so there's a long ways to go, but these early states are about organization. and, you know, 40,000 votes basically win the iowa caucus. it's dragging people out in the middle of the night, identifying them, getting them on the cold night to stand in the schoolhouse or firehouse and vote. that's a lot of organization. cain has no organization. >> yeah. this is a thing i always kept my eye on on the trump candidacy. one of the reasons i always knew it was a joke among many reasons is he didn't hire anybody who wasn't making any organization moves whatsoever. and he's the kind of guy who would know you'd have to make organizational moves. he was kind of showing he was never serious.
cain because of his failure to make organizational moves, especially when he starts a surge in the polls, leaves people wondering, is this guy really running for president? >> well, i think he's got caught up in it. i think he started out -- he's a great salesman obviously. i think he started out basically, you know, i'm going to try this thing. unsuccessful senate candidate in georgia a few years ago. and i think a lot of people encouraged him. you've been around politics all your life, people say, you should run, you're really great. well, what does that mean? it's just -- who comes in and is the reality check saying, haven't got a snowball's chance in heck, so why do it? what's happen to cain, he basically started -- he was a tea party darling the first debate. bachmann, others came in and took that away from him. he stumbled on muslims and a few other things. he has this rise again. he's caught up in it. there's still no organization. he's not going to be the nominee of the party. i bet a lot of money on that.
at the end of the day the guys who have organization and money and a pretty good retail politics, may not be a good debater is governor perry for 25 years has never been defeated. he's a good retail politics. that's what new hampshire, that's what iowa is about. iowa is his ticket. he's got to come out of iowa with a win and i just see romney will probably win new hampshire. >> and this, the cain campaign makes a lot more sense as a business proposition than a political proposition. his campaign has purchased $36,000 worth of his books at full price which means herman's getting the full royalty on those books. it's increasing his value as a motivational speaker which is actually his principle occupation when he's not running for president. he has that to go back to at a much, much higher visibility level. you can see why this guy is a successful motivational speaker. so it seems that there's much more of a, you know, the future
of herman's business at stake in this campaign than the future of herman's political career. >> as i said, i bet everything i know about politics that he's not going to be the nominee. that doesn't mean he's not going to come out of this a winner. there will be a lot of losers. he'll come out of this a winner. clearly he's a guy that could go into a cabinet today, could do a whole variety of things, but people are going to know who he is. equally as important, even without money and organization, he may be able to hang around for a while, even after iowa and he may be able to do what gingrich -- >> he can campaign on a suitcase. >> on a suitcase. people are going to be entertained by him but aren't going to vote for him. >> who profits from herman cain's staying in the race at this point? when you look at the romney versus perry campaign. >> romney profits. romney -- this would be the vote that perry's fighting for. it's the evangelical vote, the conservatives, the tea party vote romney is probably not going to get it until he's the nominee. certainly the vote perry has to get and certainly the vote
bachmann, santorum and the others in this race have to get. right now it's affected perry the most. you saw it directly go from perry who jumped into the race late and didn't do well on the first three debates, move to cain in the last debate. i think if perry has a better debate tonight, gets out and does retail politics, starts running a real campaign with television and grassroots organizations then you can see some of that come back. >> we know cain needs organization. if cain calls, does ed rollins take the call? jump back in? >> ed rollins is done. thank you very much. mrs. bachmann was my last campaign and my last one should have been ronald reagan in 1984. i won 49 states, or he won 49 states. >> breaking news. ed rollins will not work for the herman cain campaign. ed rollins, thank you for joining me this evening. >> thank you very much. coming up, herman cain met with arizona's sheriff joe arpaio to talk about the border fence and immigration.
coming up, south carolina's new voter i.d. law will prevent legitimate voters from voting and melissa harris-perry will explain why that is exactly what it is intended to do. and sheriff joe arpaio of arizona is one of the most controversial law enforcement figures in america. herman cain discussed electrified fences with the sheriff yesterday. the sheriff joins me next. we're america's natural gas
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book it. major wow factor! where you book matters. expedia. our southern border is the scene of perhaps more unbridled hope than anywhere else in the country. the hope-filled eyes of immigrants crossing that border both legally and illegally in search of a better life. in the hope of finally being able to provide for their families. our southern border is also the scene of relentless grief and tragedy. as enforcement of our border security has intensified, crossing that border illegally has become more and more dangerous and more deadly. many of the hopeful who die crossing the border, men, women and children, die in the sanoran
desert where they frequently get dehydrated, starved and get lost. 88 human remains were found on the arizona border just in the six months from last fall to last spring. the crackdown on our border has forced people to choose more desolate and difficult areas to cross illegally. even for those who are safely legally in this country, living near the border in the shadow of illegal immigration can be deadly. "the huffington post" reports that juan verella was shot in the neck in his front yard in phoenix, arizona, last may by his neighbor, gary kelly, moments before killing varela in front of his mother and brother, kelly yelled, go back to mexico or die. varela was not an illegal
immigrant. he was a fifth generation american citizen. in may, 2009, 9-year-old brusenia flores and her father, raul flores, were murdered by a minuteman vigilante group. the child and her father were both american born u.s. citizens. after the group shot and killed their father, brisenia pleaded with them, don't shoot me. they shot her in the face at pointblank range. the leader of the group, ford was sentenced to first-degree murder in february and sentenced to death. there's at least one presidential candidate who believes there is not enough grief and tragedy on our southern border. >> we'll have a real fence. 20 feet high with barbed wire.
electrified. with a sign on the other side that says, it can kill you. >> when asked about his idea of a lethal electrified fence on "meet the press," herman cain had a surprising change of heart about it. >> that's a joke, david. >> it's a joke? >> it's a joke. that's a joke. >> that's not a serious plan? >> that's not a serious plan. no it's not. >> you got a big laugh. that's not what you'd do? >> that's a joke. i also said america needs to get a sense of humor. that was a joke, okay? >> today herman cain tried another tact on securing the border. >> here's my serious answer to that question. i believe we need to secure the border for real. part of that solution would be an actual fence. it may not be electrified. that was an exaggeration, hi hyperbo hyperbole. >> yesterday herman cain was in arizona saying this about his electrified fence. >> i don't apologize for using a combination of a fence and it might be electrified. i'm not walking away from that.
i just don't want opinion about it. it was a joke to the extent of the context it was used in that speech. in terms of what we need to do, i full intend to do so. >> standing beside herman cain when he said that was arizona's maricopa county sheriff joe arpaio, the self-proclaimed toughest sheriff in america. joining me now, sheriff joe arpaio. thanks very much for joining me tonight, sheriff. >> hey, lawrence. i don't know if i'm self-proclaimed, but that's okay. >> okay. people think you're pretty tough. tell me about your conversation with herman cain about the electrified fence idea. >> well, you know, i didn't know about this until i met him in my office. we had a short meeting and a press conference. but i believe that he's frustrated just like the president is and politicians and the people of this country about doing something about illegal immigration. so i believe that he said that under frustration and maybe it was a joke, but we have to do
something at that border and in the interior of the united states to arrest those in this country illegally and those that cross the border illegally. we have to do something, lawrence, and you mention about some murders. we've had police officers killed just recently by illegal aliens, so murders occur across all different types of professions. so we have to keep that in mind, too. >> yes. absolutely. the killing of law enforcement is the securing of the border is very much a part of the tragedy of the region involving all of this. to you think, as herman cain seems to think, that it is a legitimate function of american law enforcement to set up a machine that passively kills people for crossing the border? >> oh, i don't agree with that. once again, i don't think that's that what he meant. i was a director of mexico city for many years, head of the u.s. drug enforcement.
i had my operation plans. nobody will listen to me, but i'll tell you. when i was there, we were operational. i worked with the army and the federal police. why can't we send the border patrol on a bilateral mission to work on the other side of the border, working with the army and federal authorities? if you can't -- if you're afraid it's too dangerous, let's send our military across the border working with their military, federal police, to clean up this mess. this violence that we have in mexico. >> so you -- let me get it straight. you take herman cain at his -- he's had so many different positions in the last three, four days about the electriedfi fence. the idea we should have a fence that is electrified at the level that it will kill people if they touch it, you take that to be a herman cain joke? >> yes. i don't -- i talked to him. i don't believe that's what he meant. he's just frustrated and people
say things under the frustration. they want something done. but i'm sure that he doesn't mean to kill those people crossing the border illegally. by the way, it is a crime, but it's not -- it's not a crime you go to the death chamber for. it's a misdemeanor. >> last presidential election you endorsed mitt romney which was awkward to put it mildly in the state of arizona where the eventual nominee, john mccain, is from. you said of mitt romney last time around, i like him, he's a man of principle, of good character. he did a great job in massachusetts and i feel he's going to make a great president." do you still feel that way about mitt romney? >> well, michele bachmann visited me in my office 30 days ago. governor perry called me. governor romney called me. i don't know why they're calling me. it's not because, as i mentioned on the other show, i'm tall dark and handsome, but i presume they want my endorsement. i haven't made any decision.
i met cain yesterday, but i was with him threeand how it will change the outcome of elections. support, public support for marijuana legalization is at a record high. the federal government still thinks marijuana is as dangerous as heroin. that's in the "rewrite" tonight. . these people, huh? you know i've found that anger is the enemy of instruction. you don't know the egos that i have to deal with.
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[ screaming ] >> pepper spray. seriously? pepper spray for what? [ screaming ] >> after seeing that video, i made this prediction about the department's investigation of inspector bologna. of course, as his internal affairs investigation proceeds, the culture of the department will do everything it possibly can to protect inspector baloola and seems unlikely it will result in the disciplining of bologna or any officer. the spirit of these is a mix of investigation and instinctive
institutional cover-up. we now have the results of this police investigation, an investigation that never would have occurred were it not for the wide dissemination here and elsewhere of that video which stands as irrefutable proof of inspector bologna's violation of department rules. he has, thanks to the video, been found in violation of those rules. his punishment is that the department has taken away ten of his vacation days. inspector bologna has, in effect, been rewarded with ten more work days on the streets of new york where he will have the opportunity to continue to violation the rights of new york citizens. still to come tonight, president obama's re-election campaign has not yet unleashed its strongest weapon. first lady michelle obama. that's coming up.
and south carolina's new photo identification law will deny some people their constitutional right to vote. melissa harris-perry joins me next. [ male announcer ] you are a business pro. executor of efficiency. you can spot an amateur from a mile away... while going shoeless and metal-free in seconds. and you...rent from national. because only national lets you choose any car in the aisle...and go. you can even take a full-size or above, and still pay the mid-size price. now this...will work. [ male announcer ] just like you, business pro. just like you. go national. go like a pro.
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picture i.d., as long as there's picture i.d., whether it's passport, whether it's driver's license or valid picture i.d., this will allow them to vote but more importantly maintains the integrity of the process. when someone goes to vote, they have to prove what they are. that's a great thing for every citizen in south carolina. >> that was governor nikki haley promising may 18th the voter i.d. bill she was signing into law that day, was, quote, a great thing for every citizen in south carolina. but according to a new analysis by the "associated press," south carolina's new voter photo identification law appears to be hitting black precincts in the state the hardest.
south carolina's photo identification law requires people to show a south carolina driver's license, state identification card, military i.d., or passport when they vote. without those forms of identification, the only other ways to vote are through a provisional ballot or absentee ballot. the "ap" analysis shows among the state's 2,134 precincts, there are 10 precincts where nearly all of the law's effect falls on nonwhite voters who don't have state-issued driver's license or i.d. cards. a total of 1,977 voters. the precinct that votes at the historically black benedict college campus center has 2,790 voters including only 9 white voters. in that precinct, 1,343 of the
precin precinct's nonwhite voters, 48% lack state identification. the u.s. justice department is currently reviewing the south carolina's voter i.d. law, any election law changes made there have to be cleared by federal authorities under the voting rights act because of past voting rights abuses in that state. this year, 34 states introduced legislation to create or strengthen voter i.d. laws. of those, seven have been enacted so far. alabama, kansas, rhode island, south carolina, tennessee, texas and wisconsin. there are new restrictions -- these new restrictions should have a significant impact on the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. according to the brennan center for justice, the states that have already placed further restrictions on voting will provide 171 electoral votes in
2012. 63% of the 270 needed to win the presidency. joining me now is msnbc contributor and tulane university professor of political science, melissa harris-perry. thanks for joining me tonight, melissa. >> absolutely. glad to be here. >> melissa, it seems clear what the intent of the designs are. you never see politicians touching anything around the rules of voting except in ways they believe will help their party. this is all taking place, almost all of it taking place in republic an states with a very clear intent. >> sure. here's the point. it doesn't matter what the intent is. hopefully the involvement of the justice department and preclearance laws should get us to a good place on this. because the point here is that the impact is disparate. even if the intent is neutral, in other words, even if those who draft these laws claim that there's no partisan or racial purposes behind it, if the impact is clearly a disparate
impact, one if the intent is neutral has a, you know, kind of clearly identifiably different impact on certain populations, particularly those that we think of as more vulnerable to these kind of voting rights restrictions, african-americans, latino voters, elderly voters, disabled voters, then the justice department ought to be able to step in and say that these are unfair practices. >> the brennan center for justice has shown just to put a statistical framework around the people we're talking about here, that 11% of voting age u.s. citizens totally legitimate voters, 11% of them do not have state-issued photo i.d.s. of african-americans and the elderly, that is much higher. 25% of african-americans, legitimate registered voters do not have i.d.s. 18% of people over 65, the most reliable voting group in terms of actually showing up and voting, to not have state-issued photo i.d.s. those people are all going to
have trouble voting under these laws. >> right. and there's two really important kind of moments here. one is people are saying things like, well, you have to show your i.d. when you go to cash a check at a grocery store or something, for example. and so they're making this claim that if you have to do an economic transaction with an i.d. then a political transaction should also require an i.d. our democracy is really quite different than a consumption moment. your right to vote is a right. it's a sacred trust. it is the basic sort of tie of a democratic citizenship to the state, to the government. so we should not be putting restrictions around it. it is not a right to consume, you know, consumable items. you're making a link here with the electoral college. some of these are states that are in play, they're pusrple states. a lot of presink cincts and sta have less to do with the presidential election but everything to do with the congressional and state-based elections.
some of these are safe red states. we expect all those votes to go to whoever the republican nominee is, but the difference of who would get elected to the u.s. house of representatives, to those gubernatorial houses, to those state houses, that can be enormously fundamentally swayed by these laws. as we've seen, who's in that congress, it makes a huge difference no matter who is in the white house. >> melissa, i think your point about the impact of these things is going to weigh very heavily in the justice department's evaluation of these new laws in the states where the justice department as the ability to oversee them in effect. but there was a very interesting point that i was watching chris hayes, "up with chris hayes" this weekend with you as a guest. which i do every weekend morning now. john mcwarder made i thought a very interesting point in the discussion where he said the new crusade may become what used to be a voter registration crusade, it may become a photo i.d.
crusade, that it may be if these laws hold the task to overcome them or to increase the fairness of voting may be in helping people get these photo i.d.s or showing them what their other alternative ways are with absentee ballots and so forth. that that may be the new education campaign necessary. >> sure, and i hear john on that. you know, john is certainly much more sort of an individualistic conservative, kind of up by your boot straps kind of guy. so he's always going to look at a set of restrictions and say, how do we make sure individuals can get over these hurdles? i appreciate that and that probably is particularly in those states that don't have justice department oversight, those that weren't basically part of the confederacy at one point. that may be the only thing that those interested in real serious voter registration can do. the fact is these laws are wrong and they're anti-democratic. we need to also be about making sure that those structural impediments come down so that voting can be fair in this
country. >> melissa harris-perry of msnbc and "the nation," thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> thanks, lawrence. a gallup poll shows a dramatic change in the support of the legalization of marijuana. why has no one in congress changed their minds about the legal stationizatiization of ma? that's next in the "rewrite." and later, why no one can help the president's re-election campaign more than first lady michelle obama.
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plus it relieves your stuffy nose. [ deep breath ] thank you! that's the cold truth! so i got my nephew i neto build a website., i hired someone to make my website... five months ago. we are building a website by ourselves. [ woman announcing ] there's an easier way. create your own small-business site... with intuit websites. just choose a style that suits your business, then customize, publish and get found... in three easy steps. [ bell dings ] sweet. [ announcer ] all from just $7.99 a month. get a 30-day free trial... at intuit.com. time fortonight's "rewrite." america continues to rewrite its attitude toward legalizing marijuana while the federal government's attitude remains etched in granite. since gallup started asking americans if marijuana should be legal back in 1969, most have always said no.
until now. in a gallup poll released yesterday, 50% said pot use should be legalized. that is, pardon the expression, a record high. a minority of 46% continue to say marijuana should not be legalized. that is a drop of almost 40 points since 1969 when 84% were absolutely certain that pot should never be legal iized. now, in a democracy, we should expect such a dramatic shift in public opinion to be reflected in our public officials, but in the united states senate, which would have to vote to legalize marijuana nationally, support for legalizing marijuana has gone from 0% in 1969 to 0% today. even though the united states senate now includes some admitted former pot smokers who now have no intention of making
legal what they once got away with. president obama, himself, a former pot smoker whose academic and professional achievement was obviously unhindered by the occasional high, appointed michelle leonhart as head of drug enforcement administration. the obama administration in the person of the head of the d.e.a. insisted marijuana remain classified a schedule 1 drug which means the obama administration officially considers marijuana to be just as dangerous as heroin. now, we know that no one, no one in the obama administration is stupid enough to actually think that, but we also know that politicians have no intention of facing reality any time soon when it comes to marijuana. politicians will continue to allow young lives to be ruined for mere possession of
marijuana. politicians will continue to allow people to be arrested, allow people to go to jail, allow people to get criminal records, get kicked out of school, get fired, be turned down for jobs because they try or use marijuana. something more than one president of the united states has done and gotten away with. meanwhile, america is going to continue to get high as it always has legally on booze and illegally on a lot of things including marijuana which is a much, much healthier choice than whiskey. senators, members of congress, presidents, vice presidents and supreme court justices are going to continue to get high, many of them every day and every night. many of them will do it publicly and loudly and legally at restaurants and campaign fund-raisers and at state
dinners. they will raise their glasses and get high. and they will continue to put people in jail for using a harmless non-liquid way of getting high like marijuana. such hypocrisy carries an even stronger stench than the alcohol-drenched breath of those politicians and judges and prosecutors and d.e.a. officials. i really don't know how they can sleep at night. without the booze. [ male announcer ] to the 5:00 a.m. scholar. the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be. ♪
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part by focusing on issues like military families and healthy eating, but now duty calls. >> do you have his back, are you fired up? are you ready to go? >> the president will bring out his top gun tomorrow. the first lady will join the president on the bus tour in hampton, virginia, where they will discuss the importance of hiring veterans. she and dr. biden will also attend game one of the world series as part of their joining forces initiative. the first lady has already headlined 18 fund-raisers since may, where she talks about life in the white house. >> after a long day in the oval office or after he's traveled throughout the country and when the girls have gone to bed, barack spends most nights poring over stacks of letters. he reads their stories word for word. the woman dies of cancer because
her health insurance wouldn't cover her care. and i see the concern on barack's face and i hear that passionate and determination. he tells me, we have to fix this, we have so much more to. >> today "politico" characterized her role in the campaign as essential. the themes of empathy, family and struggle are vital and a standard part of any first lady's message, but with the nation's economic worries dragging on the re-election effort, obama's contributions bear a heavier burden promoting the appeal of the first family is more than a routine job this time. it's essential. the first lady enjoyed a 65% approval rating last month according to one poll. while only 44% of the country approves of the job president obama is doing. joining me now is msnbc contributor alex wagner. alex, thank you very much for joining me tonight. >> thanks for having me, lawrence. >> she really is a powerful asset on the campaign trail. is this the time to send her out
here? >> yes. keep her out there. i think michelle obama does two things. as "politico" points out, this is something that's done. lawyura bush did this. every wife does this. the empathy and humanization of the commander in chief is very necessary. there's a residual thing michelle obama does. she's comported herself with resolve and conviction. there's a grace and a steeliness. and as obama has really i think suffered and really been buffeted about fierce criticism, the republicans and being wishy washy on key issues, michelle obama helps obama on that front by virtue of association. >> let's take a look at anita perry recently on the campaign trail. >> it's been a rough month. we've been brutalized and eaten up and chewed up in the press. >> can you imagine what would have happened to michelle obama
if she ever said anything like that? we don't have any tape of mrs. romney on the campaign trail. i asked for it. to kind of do a, you know, head to head comparison of who she might be up against. i don't see anybody on the republican side who can go one-on-one with the first lady. not that they ever have to, but they are compared. >> the obama campaign would do well to just show flash cards of marcus bachmann and anita perry and some degree ann romney who has seemed to learn lessons from 2008. you have anita perry out there crying about the memory of her grandfather who she apparently still communes with in the afterlife, comparing perry's candidacy for president to moses leasing the israelites out of egypt and the burning bush and it's really whackadoo stuff. you have marcus bachmann in reparative therapy. michelle obama's comments in 2008 about being proud of her country seems like childs play, compared to other political
spouses. >> how much more shopping at target do we expect to see? the challenging is she's no longer that, you know, relatively simple mother of two who she was in the last presidential campaign. she's first lady of the united states of america. >> hosure. >> how do you humanize her? >> like i said, i think michelle obama really connects with the american voter and i think there's a sort of -- there's a pre-existing mystery. there's a sort of not lust but a real intrigue around the first lady which is why she can command $10,000 for a photo op. the first lady holds the keys to the president's mind and heart. i think because of that and the fact she has not endured the same scrutiny any candidate did, there's a desire to know more about her. based on how michelle obama comported here's, she's well placed for the next four years. >> she was the best spouse of a candidate i saw